'Samba' magic all over again
Rio De Janeiro (AFP): Brazil destroyed world and European champions Spain 3-0 to win a third straight Confederations Cup title with a dazzling display...
Rio De Janeiro (AFP): Brazil destroyed world and European champions Spain 3-0 to win a third straight Confederations Cup title with a dazzling display of football which left the Maracana Stadium in raptures here. The turbo-charged samba stars roared to victory with two goals from Fred and a stunning strike from Neymar, dominating a weary Spanish side whose strength was sapped after edging Italy on penalties in Thursday's semifinal. A miserable night for Spain also saw them miss a second half penalty when Sergio Ramos shot wide from the spot before Barcelona defender Gerard Pique was sent off for a professional foul on Neymar. Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said the result as the perfect fillip as he plots a course to an assault on next year's World Cup finals in Brazil. The touchpaper for an electrifying evening at one of the most iconic venues in football was set during the pre-match ceremonies as Brazil's fans in a 73,531-crowd belted out a spine-tingling rendition of the national anthem. The stirring anthems came as police clashed with protestors outside the ground before kick-off, the latest in a series of violent confrontations which have dogged the tournament since it kicked off. With the euphoric stadium crowd behind them, Brazil raced into a 1-0 lead after only two minutes through Fred's first of the night. Hulk lifted over a cross and Neymar slid a hopeful ballto the centre forward, who was prone in the box as he flung out his right leg to hook home from point blank range past helpless Spanish custodian Iker Casillas. Oscar then fired a low shot just wide after Fred played on a Neymar flick before a Paulinho chip almost embarrassed Casillas as Brazil poured forward, visibly boosted by the overwhelming din of support cascading down from stands. Spain briefly responded with a swirling drive from Andres Iniesta but that was just about it. Meanwhile, Scolari played down expectations after Pele slammed the current side as not good enough to win top prizes. Recently Scolari hinted that this was the best time for keeping up the glory.